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CPS and police focus on consent

29 Jan 2015

At their first joint National Conference on Rape yesterday (28th January 2015), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police launched their clearest guidance to date for assessing the vital issue of consent in rape cases.

Rape Crisis England & Wales spokeswoman Katie Russell said:

“Let us be clear that these new toolkits for police and prosecutors do not in any way reflect a change in the law.

Rather they clarify and emphasise what has been defined in law for over a decade; that consent must be fully and freely given.

Rape Crisis welcomes this significant step forward, which is vital if the criminal justice system is to become fit for purpose for survivors of sexual violence.

Rape and other sexual offences have long been under-reported, with the Government estimating that only 15% of those who experience these horrific crimes choose to go to the police.

Through our frontline work at Rape Crisis, we know that among the many reasons for survivors’ reluctance to report is fear, including fear of not being well treated by the criminal justice system; greater confidence among professionals about how to handle the issue of consent will hopefully go some way to improving this situation.

We hope the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and others will continue to strive for positive change of this kind to enable the cultural shift necessary for sexual violence survivors to receive the criminal justice they want and deserve.

At the same time, let’s not forget every sexual violence survivor’s right to social justice, in the form of access to specialist, independent support services, regardless of whether or not she or he chooses to report to the police.

While the majority of sexual violence survivors do not currently have access to a specialist Rape Crisis centre, provision of such services is just as crucial as prosecutions and must also be prioritised.”